As hobbyists, it’s often difficult to remember the power of storytelling when it comes to setting up a shot. We think about lighting, we think about composition, we are checking the edges for clutter and we’re worried about white balance (and I’m only scratching the surface). But that camera is a unique tool that one can use to create a story – fulfilling the old belief that a picture is worth a thousand words. Stories are quite easy to reach with the camera.
This week’s inspiration, Artist’s Work by Ana GR, is a great example of short story telling. The story doesn’t have to be extravagant. And unlike literature, the story doesn’t necessarily have to have a beginning or an ending – though it can inspire both. But when a photo is used to tell a story, we can have fun with the primary subject. Is it a simple subject? Is the subject simply the boy or the artwork? Or is the subject perhaps a little more abstract and less tangible – such as the emotional connection between the boy and the artwork? In truth, a storytelling photograph should have both a simple subject and an intangible subject – an idea, if you will. The idea is the root of the story and is what drives the story forward. As the photographer, you are the creator – the director – of the story. What do you reveal? What are you telling the viewer? You can choose to share as little or as much information as you wish by controlling the content: The composition, the angles, the lighting – even the title. All will help to shape the story for your viewer.
Storytelling in photography is a common theme here at Shutter Photo. It’s not that we hold the storytelling aspect of a photo in higher regard than lighting or composition. Rather, Any photograph can inspire a story, whether that was the photographer’s intent or not. That being the case, it’s better to err on the side of caution, and at least plan for a storyline.
In Ana’s case, my interpretation of the story at hand is quite simple: A boy discovers the inner meaning of art. There is a virtual bond between the boy and the painting. We don’t see his eyes, of course, but we can plainly see that he is focused on the artwork. Or at least we are led to believe that as there is nothing else outside the frame. The vibrant colors of the artwork – a well communicated aspect of the photo – are a stark contrast to the earth-tones worn by the boy. It serves the photo well as it truly communicates the importance of the artwork. A number of themes, whether intended or not, could be pulled out of this photo. My favorite of which: Artwork has a stronger influence on people than people on the artwork.
Ana has been contributing to the Shutter Photo @ Flicker Group for a while now. But if you have not happened upon her work – or if you would like to be inspired by her many photographic works – you would best set aside some time to browse her photostream. There is also much inspiration and wisdom to be garnered from Ana’s Blog, which I would also recommend to our readers.